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View Diary: Is Tyreese "Made to Suffer"? In The Walking Dead TV Show There Can Be Only One Black Male Character (342 comments)

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  •  That's why (5+ / 0-)

    I'm only advocating this approach for screenwriters of genre fiction. Screenwriters have the advantage of being able to lean on their cast (i.e. actual women and people of color) to interpret/add to their work. But even the best actor needs a good part to work with.

    The issue is that most writers tend to make two fundamental mistakes in characterization:

    1) They overestimate the differences between groups. They assume that people of color/women/LGBT people/people with disabilities are more different from straight white men (and each other) than we actually are.

    2) They underestimate the differences within groups. They assume that members of a group other than their own are more alike than we actually are.

    So they tend to write characters superficially like themselves in most of the important roles because they see a character superficially like themselves as a sort of neutral 'blank slate' that can take on any personality, any set of motivations, any background. So the reality is that most of these characters don't actually need to be straight white men. Their straight whiteness is mostly incidental - the writer isn't actively thinking about and writing their whiteness in the same way he might write a black character's blackness.

    It is true that there are actual, non-trivial differences among groups. For instance, if you decide to have a gay character, you're probably eventually going to have to handle a romantic relationship, and that romantic relationship is probably (though not necessarily) going to be with someone of the same sex. And that needs to be handled differently from a straight relationship.

    But in genre fiction, for the other 90% of the time that character is on screen, s/he can play exactly the same role in the main plot that a straight man would. The dialogue might need to change slightly, the delivery might need to be a bit different from what you originally envisioned, the backstory might need to be adapted, but the core role and its place in the plot don't need to change just because the character is gay. Or black. Or female.

    "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

    by kyril on Mon Dec 03, 2012 at 10:50:16 PM PST

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    •  great explanation about whiteness and white (8+ / 0-)

      privilege when you write:

      "Their straight whiteness is mostly incidental - the writer isn't actively thinking about and writing their whiteness in the same way he might write a black character's blackness."

      classic.

    •  To be fair (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mim5677

      That was done with Glenn, though there have been two or three references to his being Asian, his character in the comic books was not.  Glenn is also considered the most truthfully adapted character.  Not Rich with his dulled craziness, not Andrea with her stupid antics, not Michonne with her boring plotlines. Glenn.

      Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

      by Nulwee on Tue Dec 04, 2012 at 05:27:53 PM PST

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      •  Glenn was not asian in the comic? (0+ / 0-)

        that's not true.

        Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

        by mim5677 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 05:57:13 AM PST

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        •  Glenn used an ulna as a weapon!!!!nt (0+ / 0-)

          Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

          by mim5677 on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 06:05:03 AM PST

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        •  Oops! You're correct. (0+ / 0-)

          Glenn is Asian in the comics.

          Thank you to jayden, Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN, Aji and everyone in the Daily Kos community involved in gifting my subscription and gifting others!

          by Nulwee on Wed Dec 05, 2012 at 07:00:21 AM PST

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